Officials in legal marijuana states slam the Trump Administration's vow to crack down

Lawmakers and officials in states that have legalised recreational marijuana are speaking out after White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s statement that the Trump Administration may crack down on legalised marijuana.

“I was deeply disappointed to hear the White House Press Secretary’s comments today regarding marijuana legalization by states like Washington,” Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general said in a statement on Thursday.

“… I will also be very clear with AG Sessions that I will defend the will of Washington voters,” Ferguson added. 

Spicer said in yesterday’s press briefing that there will be “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws. Marijuana is illegal at the federal level — it’s a Schedule 1 drug — though a number of states have legalised and regulated it for both recreational and medical use, posing a conflict between state and federal laws. 

“My office will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the federal government does not undermine Washington’s successful, unified system for regulating recreational and medical marijuana,” Ferguson added.

Ferguson, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month requesting that the DOJ “engage” with Washington and other states that have legalised marijuana before reviewing and changing the federal government’s policies.

The DOJ’s policy towards state-regulated marijuana is governed by the “Cole Memorandum” — implemented under the Obama Administration — which stipulates that the DOJ place “low priority” on enforcing marijuana laws against businesses and organisations that comply with state laws.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), called on the federal government to “respect the decisions of Oregon voters.”

“Instead, the Trump Administration is threatening states’ rights, including the rights of one in five Americans who live in a state where marijuana is legal,” Wyden said. “I will fight hard against ridiculous federal government intrusions into our state.”

Nevada’s Senate majority leader, Aaron D. Ford (D), called on Nevada’s Republican attorney general to “vigorously defend” the state’s recreational marijuana laws from “federal overreach.”

“Not only did voters overwhelmingly vote to approve the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Governor’s proposed education budget depends on tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales,” Ford said. “Any action by the Trump administration would be an insult to Nevada voters and would pick the pockets of Nevada’s students.”

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan group advocating for the legalization of marijuana — including Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Jared Polis (R-CO) — said that they hope Spicer’s comments “do not reflect the views of the President and his Administration.”

“We stand ready to educate this administration on the need for more sensible marijuana policies and share the many experiences states have had with the legalization of cannabis.”

Other lawmakers, such as John Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor of Colorado have expressed caution about speculating what the Trump Administration “may or may not do,” with regards to enforcing federal laws on states that have legalised marijuana.

NOW WATCH: The president’s close friend of 40 years explains Trump’s sense of humour

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.